Leaves from the Journal
Visit to Blair Athole 9 Sept, 1844
Monday, September 9, 1844
We got up at a quarter to six oclock. We
breakfasted. Mama came to take leave of us; Alice and the baby were
brought in, poor little things, to wish us good-by. Then good
Bertie came down to see us, and Vicky J: appeared as voyageuse,
and was all impatience to go. At seven we set off with her for the
railroad, Viscountess Canning and Lady Caroline Cocks § in our
carriage. A very wet morning. We got into the carriage again
at Paddington, and proceeded to Woolwich, which we reached at nine.
Vicky was safely put into the boat, and then carefully carried on
deck of the yacht by Renwick,^ the sergeant-footman, whom we took
with us in the boat on purpose. Lord Liverpool, Lord Aberdeen, and
Sir James Clark met us on board. Sir Robert Peel was to have gone
with us, but could not, in consequence of his little girl being very
Blair Athole, Wednesday, September 11.
At six oclock we inquired and heard that we were in
the port of Dundee. Albert saw our other gentlemen, who had had a
very bad passage. Tuesday night they had a dreadful storm. Dundee is
a very large place, and the port is large and open; the situation of
the town is very fine, but the town itself is not so. The Provost
and people had come on board, and wanted us to land later, but we
got this satisfactorily arranged. At half-past eight we got into our
barge with Vicky, and our ladies and gentlemen. The sea was bright
and blue; the boat danced along beautifully. We had about a quarter
of a mile to row.
A staircase, covered with red cloth, was arranged for
us to land upon, and there were a great many people; but everything
was so well managed that all crowding was avoided, and only the
Magistrates were below the platform where the people were. Albert
walked up the steps with me, I holding his arm and Vicky his hand,
amidst the loud cheers of the people, all the way to the carriage,
our dear Vicky behaving like a grown up person not put out, nor
frightened, nor nervous. We got into our postchaise, and at the same
time Renwick took Vicky up in his arms, and put her in the next
carriage with her governess and nurse.
There was a great crowd in Dundee, but everything was
very well managed, and there would have been no crowding at all, had
not, as usual, about twenty people begun to run along with the
carriage, and thus forced a number of others to follow. About three
miles beyond Dundee we stopped at the gate of Lord Camperdowns
place: here a triumphal arch had been erected, and Lady Camperdown
and Lady Duncan and her little boy, with others, were all waiting to
welcome us, and were very civil and kind. The little boy,
beautifully dressed in the Highland dress, was carried to Vicky, and
gave her a basket with fruit and flowers. I said to Albert I could
hardly believe that our child was travelling with us it put me so
in mind of myself when I was the Little Princess. Albert observed
that it was always said that parents lived their lives over again in
their children, which is a very pleasant feeling.
The country from here to Cupar Angus is very well
cultivated, and you see hills in the distance. .The harvest is only
now being got in, but is very good; and everything much greener than
in England. Nothing could be quieter than our journey, and the
scenery' is so beautiful! It is very different from England: all the
houses built of stone; the people so different,sandy hair, high
cheekbones; children with long shaggy hair and bare legs and feet;
little boys in kilts. Near Dunkeld, and also as you get more into
the Highlands, there are prettier faces. Those jackets which the
girls wear are so pretty; all the men arid women, as well as the
children, look very healthy.
Cupar Angus is a small placea village-14 miles
from Dundee. There you enter Perthshire. We crossed the
river Isla, which made me think of my poor little dog Isla. For
about five or six miles we went along a very pretty but rough
cross-road, with the Grampians in the distance. We saw Birnam
Wood and Sir W. Stewarts place in that fine valley on the opposite
side of the river, All along such splendid scenery, and Albert
enjoyed it so muchrejoicing in the beauties of nature, the sight of
mountains, and the pure air.
The peeps of Dunkeld, with the river Tay deep in the
bottom, and the view of the bridge and cathedral, surrounded by the
high wooded hills, as you approached it, were lovely in the extreme.
We got out at an inn (which was small, but very clean) at Dunkeld, and
stopped to let Vicky have some broth. Such a charming view from the
window! Vicky stood and bowed to the people out of the window. There
never was such a good traveller as she is, sleeping in the carriage
at her usual times, not put out, not frightened at noise or crowds;
but pleased and amused. She never heard the anchor go at night on
board ship; bur slept as sound as a top.
Shortly after leaving Dunkeld, which is 20 miles
from Blair, and 15 from Cupar Angus, we met Lord Glenlyon in a
carriage; he jumped out and rode with us the whole way to Blair,and
a most beautiful road it is. Six miles on, in the woods to the left,
we could see Kinnaird House, where the late Lady Glenlyon (Lord
Glenlyons mother, who died about two or three months ago) used to
live. Then we passed the point of Logierait, where there are the
remains of an ancient castle,the old Regality Court of the Dukes of
Athole. At Moulitiearn we tasted some of the Athole brose, which
was brought to the carriage.
We passed Pitlochrie, a small village, Faskally, a
very pretty place of Mr. Butters, to the left, and then came to
the Pass of Killiecrankie, which is quite magnificent; the road
winds along it, and you look down a great height, all wooded on both
sides; the Garry rolling below it. I cannot describe how beautiful
it is. Albert was in perfect ecstasies. Mr. McInroys, to the right,
is very pretty. Blair Athole is only four or five miles from the Killiecrankie
Pass. Lord Glenlyon has had a new approach made. The house is a
large plain white building, surrounded by high hills, which one can
see from the windows. Lord and Lady Glenlyon, with their little boy,
received us at the door, and showed us to our rooms, and then left
Blair Castle, Blair Athole,
Thursday, September 12.
We took a delightful walk of two hours. Immediately
near the house the scenery is very wild, which is most enjoyable.
The moment you step out of the house you see those splendid hills
all round. We went to the left through some neglected
pleasure-grounds, and then through the wood, along a steep winding
path overhanging the rapid stream. These Scotch streams, full of
stones, and clear as glass, are most beautiful; the peeps between
the trees, the depth of the shadows, the mossy stones, mixed with
slate, &e., which cover the banks, are lovely; at every turn you
have a picture. We were up high, but could not get to the top;
Albert in such delight; it is a happiness to see him, he is in such
spirits. We came back by a higher drive, and then went to the
Factors house, still higher up, where Lord and Lady Glenlyon are
living, having given Blair up to us. We walked on, to a cornfield
where a number of women were cutting and reaping the oats
(shearing as they call it in Scotland'), with a splendid view of
the hills before us, so rural and romantic, so unlike our
daily Windsor walk (delightful as that is); and this change does
such good: as Albert observes, it refreshes one for a long time. We
then went into the kitchen-garden, and to a walk from which there is
a magnificent view. This mixture of great wildness and art is
At a little before four oclock Albert drove me out
in the pony phaeton till nearly sixsuch a drive ! Really to be able
to sit in ones pony carriage, and to see such wild, beautiful
scenery as we did, the farthest point being only five miles from the
house, is an immense delight. We drove along Glen Tilt, through a
wood overhanging the river Tilt, which joins the Garry, and as we
left the wood we came upon such a lovely viewBeny-Ghlo straight
before usand under these high hills the river Tilt gushing and
winding over stones and slates, and the hills and mountains skirted
at the bottom with beautiful trees; the whole lit up by the sun ;
and the air so pure and tine; but no description can at all do it
justice, or give an idea of what this drive was.
Oh! what can equal the beauties of nature! What
enjoyment there is in them! Albert enjoys it so much he is in
ecstasies here. He has inherited this love for nature from his dear
We went as far as the Marble Lodge, a keepers
cottage, and came back the same way.
Monday, September 16.
After our luncheon at half-past three, Albert drove
me (Lord Glenlyon riding with us) to the Falls of the Bruar. We got
out at the road, and walked to the upper falls, and down again by
the path on the opposite side. It is a walk of three miles round,
and a very steep ascent; at every turn the view of the rushing falls
is extremely fine, and looking back on the hills, which were so
clear and so beautifully lit up, with the rapid stream below, was
most exquisite. We threw stones down to see the effect in the water.
The trees which surround the falls were planted by the late Duke of
Athole in compliance with Burns's. Petition!
The evening was beautiful, and we feasted our eyes on
the ever-changing, splendid views of the hills and vales as we drove
back. Albert said that the chief beauty of mountain scenery-
consisted in its frequent changes. We came home at six oclock.
Tuesday, September 17.
At a quarter to four oclock we drove out, Albert
driving me, and the ladies and Lord Glenlyon following in another
carriage. We drove to the Pass of Killiecrankie, which looked in its
greatest beauty and splendour, and appeared quite closed, so that
one could not imagine how one was to get out of it. We drove over a
bridge to the right, where the view of the pass both ways, with
the Garry below, is beaut:'ful. We got out a little way beyond this
and walked on a mile to the Palls of the Tummtl, the stream of which
is famous for salmon; these falls, however, are not so fine, or
nearly ťo high, as those of the Bruar. We got home at half-past six;
the day was fast fading, and the lights were lovely.
We watched two stags fighting just under our window;
they are in an enclosure, and roar incessantly.
Wednesday, September 18.
At nine oclock we set off on ponies, to go up one of
the hills, Albert riding the dun pony and I the grey, attended only
by Lord Glenlyons excellent servant, Sandy McAra, in his Highland
dress. We went out by the back way across the road, and to the left
through the ford, Sandy leading my pony and Albert following
closely, the water reaching up above Sandys knees. We then went up
the hill of Tidloch, first straight up a very steep cabbage-field,
and then in a zigzag manner round, till we got up to the top; the
ponies scrambling up over stones and everything, and never making a
false step; and the view all round being splendid and most
beautifully lit up. We went up to the very highest top, which cannot
be seen from the house or from below; and from here the view is like
a panorama: you see the Falls of the Bruar, Ben-y-Chat, Ben Vrackie,
Beny Ghlo, the Killiecrankie Pass, and a whole range of distant
hills on the other side, which one cannot at all see from below. In
the direction of Taymouth you also see Dalnacardoch, the first stage
from Blair. Blair itself and the houses in the village looked like
little toys from the great height we were on. It was quite romantic.
Here we were with only this Highlander behind us holding the ponies
(for we got off twice and walked about)not a house, not a creature
near us, but the pretty Highland sheep, with their horns and black
faces,up at the top of Tulloch, surrounded by beautiful mountains.
We came back the same way that we went, and stopped
at the ford to let the ponies drink before we rode through. We
walked from inside the gate, and came home at halfpast eleven,the
most delightful, most romantic ride and walk I ever had. I had never
been up such a mountain, and then the day was so line. The hill
of Tulloch is covered with grass, and is so delightfully soft to
Thursday, September 19.
Albert set off, immediately after luncheon,
deer-stalking, and I was to follow and wait below in order to see
the deer driven down. At four oclock I set off with Lady Glenlyon
and Lady Canning, Mr. Oswald and Lord Charles Wellesley riding, by
the lower Glen Tilt drive. We stopped at the end; but were still in
the wood; Sandy was looking out and watching. After waiting we were
allowed to come out of the carriage, and came upon the road, where
we saw some deer on the brow, of the hill. We sat down on the
ground, Lady Canning and I sketching, and Sandy and Mr. Oswald, both
in Highland costume, (the same that they all wear here, viz. a grey
cloth jacket and waistcoat, with a kilt and a Highland
bonnet,) lying on the grass and looking through
glasses. After waiting again some time, we were told in a mysterious
whisper that they were coming, and indeed a great herd did appear
on the brow of the hill, and came running down a good way, when most
provokingly two men who were walking on the roadwhich they had no
business to have donesuddenly came in sight, and then the herd all
ran back again and the sport was spoilt. After waiting some little
while we observed Albert, Lord Glenlyon, and the keepers on the brow
of the hill, and we got into the carriage, drove a little way, went
over tire bridge, where there is a shepherd's shiel, and got out
and waited for them to join us, which they did almost
immediately,looking very picturesque with their rifles. My poor
Albert had not even fired one shot for fear of spoiling the whole
thing, but had been running about a good deal. The group of keepers
and dogs was very-pretty. After talking and waiting a little while,
we walked some way on, and then Albert drove home with us.
Saturday, September 21.
After breakfast Albert saw Lord Glenlyon, who
proposed that he should go deer-stalking and that I should follow
him. At twenty minutes to eleven we drove off with Lady Canning
for Glen lilt. The day was glorious and it would have been a pity to
lose it, but it was a long hard days work, though extremely
delightful and enjoyable, and tinlike anything I had ever done
before. I should have enjoyed it still more had I been able to be
with Albert the whole time.
We drove nearly to Peter Frasers house, which is
between the Marble Lodge and Forest Lodge. Here Albert and I walked
about a little, and then Lady Canning and we mounted our ponies and
set off on our journey, Lord Glenlyon leading my pony the whole way,
Peter Fraser, the head-keeper (a wonderfully active man) leading the
way; Sandy and six other Highlanders carrying rifles and leading
dogs, and the rear brought up by two ponies with our luncheon-box.
Lawley, Alberts Jager, was also there, carrying one of Alberts
rifles; the other Albert slung over his right shoulder, to relieve
Lawley. So we set off and wound round and round the hill, which had
the most picturesque effect imaginable. Such a splendid Hew all
round, finer and more extensive the higher we went! The day was
delightful; but the sun very hot. We saw the highest point of Ben-y-Ghlo, which
one cannot see from below, and the distant range of hills we had
seen from Tulloch was beautifully softened by the slightest haze. We
saw Loch Vach. The road was very good, and as we ascended we had to
speak in a whisper, as indeed we did almost all day, for fear of
coming upon deer unawares. The wind was, however, right, which is
everything here for the deer. I wish we could have had Landseer with
us to sketch our party, with the background, it was so pretty, as
were also the various halts, &c. If 1 only had had time to sketch
We stopped at the top of the Ghrianan, whence you
look down an immense height. It is here that the eagles sometimes
sit. Albert got off and looked about in great admiration, and walked
on a little, and then remounted his pony. We then went nearly to the
top of Cairn Mamain, and here we separated, Albert going off with
Peter, Lawley, and two other keepers, to get a "quiet shot" as they
call it; and Lady Canning, Lord Glenlyon, and I went up quite to the
top, which is deep in moss.
A very good man. His health obliged him to give up
being a Jager in 1848 ; he was then appointed a Page, in which
position lie continued till he died, in November, 1865.
Here we sat down and stayed some time sketching the
ponies below; Lord Glenlyon and Sandy remaining near us. The view
was quite beautiful, nothing but mountains all around us,- and the
solitude, the complete solitude, very impressive. We saw the range
of Mar Forest, and the moer range to the left, receding from us, as
we sat facing the hill, called Scar sack, where the counties
of Perth, Aberdeen, and Inverness join. My pony was lrought up for
me, and we then descended this highest pinnacle, and proceeded on a
level to meet Albert, whom I descried coming towards us. We met him
shortly after; lie had had bad luck, I am sorry to say. We then sat
down on the grass and had some luncheon; then I walked a little with
Albert and we got on our ponies. As we went on towards home some
deer were seen in Glen Chroine, which is called the Sanctum where
it is supposed that there are a great many. Albert went off soon
after this, and we remained on Srop a Chro, for an hour. I am sure,
as Lord Glenlyon said by so doing we should turn the deer to Albert,
whereas if we went on we should disturb and spoil the whole thing.
So we submitted. Albert looked like a little speck creeping about on
an opposite hill. We saw four herds of deer, two of them close to
us. It was a beautiful sight.
Meanwhile I saw tire sun sinking gradually, and I got
quite alarmed lest we should be benighted, and we called anxiously
for Sandy, who had gone away for a moment, to give a signal to come
back. We then began our descent, squinting the hill, the ponies
going as safely and securely as possible. As the sun went down the
scenery became more and more beautiful, the sky crimson, golden red
and blue, and the hills looking purple and lilac, most exquisite,
till at length it set, and the hues grew softer in the sky and the
outlines of the hills sharper. I never saw anything so fine. It
soon, however, grew very dark.
At length Albert met us, and he told me he had waited
all the time for us, as he knew how anxious I should be. He had been
very unlucky, and had lost his sport, for the rifle would not go off
just when he could have shot some fine harts; yet he was as merry
and cheerful as if nothing had happened to disappoint him. We got
down quite safely to the bridge ; our ponies going most surely,
though it was quite dusk when we were at the bottom of the hi|l. We
walked to the Marble Lodge, and then got into tie pony carriage and
drove home by very bright moonlight, which made everything look very
lovely; but the road made one a little nervous.
We saw a flight of ptarmigan, with their white wings,
on the top of Sron a Chro, also plovers, grouse, and pheasants. We
were safely home by a quarter to eight.
Tuesday, October 1
At a quarter-past eight oclock we started, and were
very very sorry to leave Blair and the dear Highlands I Every little
trifle and every spot I had become attached to; our life of quiet
and liberty, everything was so pleasant, and all the Highlanders and
people who went with us I had got to like so much. Oh! the dear
hills, it made me very sad to leave them behind!
Lord Glenlyon rode with us, and we went back exactly
the same road we came; through Killiecrankie, Pitlochrie, saw Logierait, &c.
The battle of Killiecrankie was fought m a field to your left, as
you come from Blair and before you come to the pass; and Lord Dundee
was shut in a garden immediately above the field at Urrard (formerly
called Rbnrory) which belongs to Mr. Stewart of Urrard; the Stewarts
of Urrard used formerly to live on Craig Urrard. We reached Dunkeld at
half-past eleven. Mr. Oswald and Mr. Patrick Small Keir, with a
detachment of Highlanders, were there. We drove up to the door of
the cottage at Dunkeld and got out there. It is beautifully situated
and the cottage is very pretty, with a good view of the river from
the windows. Craig-y-Barns is a fine rocky hill to the left as you
drive from Blair.
We walked to look at the beginning of the new house
which the late Duke of Athole commenced, but which has been left
unfinished, and also at a beautiful larch-tree, the first that was
brought to Scotland. I rode back on Aighait Bhean for the last
time, and took a sad leave of him and of faithful Sandy McAra. We
walked into the ruins of the old cathedral and into that part which
the late Duke fitted up for service, and where there is a fine
monument of him. 1 should never have recognized the grounds of Dunkeld, so
different did they look without the encampment. Beautiful as Dunkeld is,
it does not approach the beauty and wildness of Blair.
After twelve oclock we set off again, and to our
astonishment Lord Glenlyon insisted upon riding on with us
to Dundee, which is 50 miles from Blair! Captain J. Murray also rode
with us from Dunkeld. It made me feel sad to see the country
becoming flatter and flatter. There was a great crowd at Cupar
Angus, and at Dundee a still larger one, and on the pier the crush
was very great.
We took leave of Lord Glenlyon with real regret, and
he seemed quite unhappy at our going. No one could be more zealous
or kinder than he was.
There was a fearful swell when we went in the barge
to the yacht.
Thursday, October 3.
The English coast appeared terribly flat. Lord
Aberdeen was quite touched when I told him I was so attached to the
dear, dear Highlands and missed the fine hills so much. There is a
great peculiarity about the Highlands and Highlanders; and they are
such a chivalrous, fine, active people. Our stay among them was so
delightful. Independently of the beautiful scenery, there was a
quiet, a retirement, a wildness, a liberty, and a solitude that had
such a charm for us.
The day had cleared up and was bright, but the air
very heavy and thick, quite different from the mountain air, which
was so pure, light, and brisk. At two oclock we
reached Woolwich, and shortly after disembarked. We proceeded
straight to the railroad, and arrived at Windsor Castle at a few
minutes past four.
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